Thursday, 30 April 2015

Clarins Sexy Summer Products - Aquatic Treasures

The Aquatic Treasures collection from Clarins is timed perfectly for summer. 
The collection which features shimmering shades of gold and bronze looks flattering on most complexions. 




Aquatic Summer Treasures Summer Bronzing Compact. 


Aquatic Summer Treasures Bronzing Compact £30

This Aquatic Summer Treasures Summer Bronzing Compact is a glamorous bronzing compact, packaged very prettily with a handy mirror included and a shell inspired design. What I like about this bronzer is that it has 4 customisable designs, all slightly different. Not sure if one is too dark? Mix it up with a lighter shade. The shades are matt and thus very natural looking and the powder feels soft and easy to blend with a brush. Added to the formulation are soft focusing pigments. This give you a very flattering slightly luminous effect on the skin without the high shine of some bronzers. It could also be used for contouring the skin or even brushed lightly on your legs.




Also Clarins are very proud of their innovative "anti-pollution complex" in this compact which fights the signs of premature ageing and loss of radiance linked to pollution. 






The four colours of the bronzer

Truly Waterproof Mascara
Truly Waterproof Mascara £21

If like me, you are always on a quest to find a good waterproof mascara, you probably spend hours browsing the beauty counters as soon as the summer season hits us. Getting the combination right can be tricky. Firstly you want a great waterproof formulation, one that stays put through swimming, tears, watering eyes and the heat. The mascara wand is vitally important too. This has to curl and define to enhance your lashes.  How the product is distributed on the wand is crucial. Even distribution is key here, as you want the product to coat each lash and you don't want the mascara to be clumpy.  So I was looking forward to trying the Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara.

Application of the product was easy and smooth - the fine filaments of the brush appear to coat every lash, gripping it from root to tip. For best results and a more enhanced look I recommend applying it twice. Added ingredients of bitter orange tree wax and olive squalane nourishes, conditions and protects from sea water, chlorine and other such nasties. I was very pleased with the product, as it opened up my eyes and was still a natural look. If you want a false lash effect this is not the product for you though. At the end of the day it did slightly smudge but had more staying power than other mascaras I have tried. Remove with a good waterproof mascara remover.

Fix' Make-Up
Fix' Make-Up £22

Clarins Fix' Make-Up is a must have hero product for summer. Why? Well it is a fine mist spray that works by fixing your make up with a fine polymer film. The spray feels cooling on, and non greasy and it is suitable for all skin types. Fructose and Rose Cohobat keeps skin supple, whilst Vitamin C and Grapefruit brightens the complexion. Shine is also absorbed with fine microspheres of Silica. 




I could have done with this product when I visited Florida last year. My makeup melted off my face, the weather was so humid! Keep this in the fridge to freshen up on the hottest of days and in your handbag to fix your make up in place if you are out partying after a day in the office. I am waiting for a super hot day to try this out, so will report back in due course if this helps my makeup stay put, although the spray certainly feels cooling on the skin.

So here are some of the Clarins Aquatic Treasures selection for Summer. They also have some gorgeous shimmery Ombre Iridescente Eyeshadows in Aquatic Rose and Aquatic Grey, as well as lots of other summery products. So get your flip flops on, and get down to the Clarins counter at your nearest department store to get yourself in the summery vibe.


* I was gifted some products for review purposes
Family Fever
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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Telling Your Story Through Pandora Charms

The History Of The Charm Bracelet



Charm bracelets have been popular as a personalised adornment since 400-600 BC. In years gone by they were used as an amulet to ward off bad luck and some of the first charms were made of shells and clay, then later, rocks, wood and gems.

Queen Victoria wore a charm bracelet and she is credited to the rise of popularity of charm bracelets amongst the European noble classes in the 19th century. We have come on a lot in today's society but the popularity of charm bracelets is still strong today. Modern ladies have decided they prefer bead charms and clip on charms to the soldered charm bracelets of yesteryear. The European style charm bracelets emerged in 2002, a thick silver chain holds a number of beads which are threaded through.  There are many brands of charm bracelets, but one of the most popular today is Pandora.

Pandora 



This bracelet is inspired by emotions 

Pandora was started in Denmark in a small independent jewellers in the early 80's but it wasn't until 2000 that the concept of the Pandora charm bracelet was created, initially for the Danish market. Pandora grew quickly after that, and is now sold in over 70 countries. Consumers love the pretty modern designs and the way of telling their own story through the individual charms.

Pandora's charms are high quality and hand finished. Bracelets range from the traditional thick snake chains, to thinner chains, cord bracelets and even bangles. Each charm screws onto the bracelet and also dividers are available for added detail. Beads are affordable, and sold at a range of prices but what matters most is the way the Pandora beads tell a story that is individual and unique to you. That is what makes Pandora special - You. Your memories, your experiences and your stories, and the beads you choose to weave the rich tapestry of your life. Charms that really mean something to you.



With more than 600 charms to choose from you will be spoilt for choice. 

First love and lasting love can be symbolised with the Together Forever charm, whilst a marriage can be symbolised with many of the Love charms available - the Bride and Groom charm or the First Dance charm for example. If you have just bought a new house, then the Home charm is perfect and if you have a special birthday there are the 21, 30 or 40 charms. There are charms for babies being born, pets and graduations. I love the travel charms such as the suitcase and aeroplane as I'm always off on a new adventure.


A sample of the many Pandora charms - a chef's hat, an owl graduation charm and a piano

Where To Buy Pandora

I like buying jewellery through independent shops as I always feel you get service personal to you. Robert Gatward Jewellers sell a wide range of Pandora to suit your needs through their four Pandora stores (in Abingdon, Thame, Ipswich and Windsor) and they have well trained, personable staff that give you help and advice if needed. Did you know that when buying a Pandora bracelet, you should allow 2-3 cm of extra space for the charms if you plan to fill it up?


My friend Helen's Pandora bracelet - Mummy To The Max.

Each charm means something special - the little boy charm represents her son, the Amour charm was from her husband and the frog reminds her of her gran as she loved wildlife.

On their website is a nifty Pandora enquiry form so they can tell you which of their stores stock the jewellery you require and they also do a free of charge mail order delivery service. I mean how convenient is that! Just give them ring and your Pandora jewellery will be delivered to your door in no time. You don't even have to live close to their stores.

If you want to find out more check out the Pandora range from Robert Gatward Jewellers.

You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter too which is especially good if you want to ask them a question about their jewellery.

Tell me, do you own or would you buy a Pandora bracelet? What charms would you have to signify your story?

* A post in collaboration with Robert Gatward Jewellers. All words and opinions are my own

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Ultimate Girls Night In Competition - Ends 21/05/15

Sometimes you just need your friends around for a good chatter. Good friends can be great at listening, be a shoulder to cry on and can help cheer you up. I like to surround myself with friends that make me laugh, after all, laughter is the best medicine as they say. 

My friend Patty is a lovely woman. She has a disability and it never gets her down, even after having lots of operations, she still has a smile. Linda, my friend who I met through Zumba is a breath of fresh air, always laughing always bubbly, a mad cat woman as I say with affection.  Rachel is a bit of a foodie like me, and loves a good pub quiz, which is where I met her. When we meet up food and/or drink is always involved and lots of laughter!  The two Lucys are my lovely online friends, bloggers, compers, and are totally bonkers.  They both have big hearts and always make time to listen to me at the end of a computer. I have met both of them and they are amazing. I have lots of friendships online through my love of entering competitions and blogging.  




Image Copyright Lorelyn Medina Shutterstock 

Friendships are good for you. There are many research articles that say friendships boost self esteem, boost mood and offer support. Having a great network of friends may even make you live longer. An Australian study of nearly 1500 people found those with a large network of friends outlived those with fewer friends by 22%.  

So make time for your friends, and if your social circumstances change, why not make some new friends? If your child starts school for the first time, take some time to chat to the others mums, they are not all scary - honest. if you go to a fitness class, say hi to the others in the class, or if you take up a new hobby, such as sewing, photography or bingo for example, there will be others in the same situation as you, unsure of themselves and what to do.


Friendships can help you live longer

Image Copyright Wavebreakmedia Shutterstock

Today on my blog I am giving you a chance to win a girls night in hamper. These items have been donated by Paddy Power Bingo, if you want to find out about playing bingo online then click here. 

This hamper consists of:-

·  New copies of ‘Blended’ and ‘The Other Woman’ on DVD.
·  A bingo board game.
·  4 face masks. 
·  A £10 supermarket voucher for a shop of your choice.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter
Please allow 28 days for delivery
No automated entries
One entry per person
Giveaway ends midnight on 21/05/15

With responsible gaming, it is important to never spend more than you can afford. 

Good Luck!

You can enter more of my competitions here

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Monday, 27 April 2015

5 Things No Summer Holiday Would Be Complete Without

This is a guest post by the lovely Samantha from http://cocobutterblog.co.uk/

5 Things No Summer Holiday Would Be Complete Without

Bikini

Obviously this pretty much goes without saying but if you’re going on a beach holiday then you definitely need a bikini (or seven) for sunbathing and chilling round the pool/on the beach. My favourite style is the bandeau as it means no tan lines on your shoulders. I tend to pick up a few different styles from Primark before my holiday as they’re cheap which means you can afford one for every day.

Flip Flops


For slipping on round the pool and sloping walks into town, you need a pair of comfortable, casual flip flops. My favourite brand is Havaianas and I get a new pair every time we go away. They do really cute patterned ones and I love the ones with gold straps as they really pop once you get a tan. I got these ones for my honeymoon last year.

Beach Bag

For your book, iPod, suncream and beach towel, you need a practical yet super-stylish bag so you can toss everything in and set off for the beach. I love this one from Ted Baker as it is just the right size for all your sunbathing-essentials and comes with matching flip flops. You’ll be the matchy-matchy envy of the rest of the sun worshippers with this beauty.

A Long Dress

In the past, a maxi dress would be your go to for holiday cocktails and dinners but this season there’s a new shape in town. The A-line midi comes to just above your ankle and, as the name suggests, flicks out towards the bottom. Go for pastel shades of blue or pink (they look great with a tan!) and wear with a low block heel for super-stylish holiday evening wear.

Denim Shorts

The easiest holiday garment to wear for sightseeing and day time exploring, you can now get denim shorts in a variety of colours and styles. My absolute favourites are faded denim high-waisted hot pants but I’ve also just bought these dark coral cuties from Primark, where they have a pair in every colour imaginable. Denim shorts are also great for taking you from day to night as you can dress them up with heels and a kimono for evening cool.
What are your holiday fashion essentials?
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Friday, 24 April 2015

Yves Rocher Beauty Review

I have never tried products from the beauty brand Yves Rocher before. Did you know they are the number 1 beauty care brand in France? 

History

Yves Rocher started the brand in the 1950's in France after a local healer gave him a secret recipe for a cream. Yves made it by hand and before he knew it, it was a sell out. Through his passion for plants and years of study he created the 'Botanical Beauty' ethos, and now Yves Rocher sell to over 30 million women each year.

Products

There are many products in the Yves Rocher brand, from face care, body care and haircare to makeup to nutrition and well being - a complete holistic approach to beauty.



I was sent some complimentary products for a honest review. At the moment these products are on special offer, I have posted the offer price below.

Monoï de Tahiti Precious Dry Oil - £8.50

When I was younger I used to have oily skin, but since my 40's I have noticed my skin getting drier. I would have never used a dry oil product in the past so I wasn't sure what to expect from this. Although this is an oil, this product absorbs easily and quickly into the skin. It has a tropical floral fragrance with a slight nutty smell. I wasn't too keen on the fragrance, as I found it too sweet for me but don't let that put you off as the product works really well.

The shimmering particles give a slight sheen to your skin, and looks particularly attractive on legs and shoulders for that sunkissed look. It is also mineral oil and paraben free which is a great plus point. I am definitely packing this when I go on holiday next. 

Eclat Radiance Rinsing Vinegar - £5.65

A rinsing vinegar is used to give extra shine to the hair after shampooing. This silicone free formula has the delightful fragrance of raspberries with no smell of vinegar at all ( I was concerned about that!) You apply it to your hair after shampooing, leave for a minute or so, and then rinse off with water. I was quite sceptical about this product, but my hair did feel slinky after use, and smooth to the touch. It is formulated to remove mineral build up too.

Delicate Cleansing Cream Low Shampoo - £3.45

The concept behind a 'low' shampoo is that it doesn't foam but it is rich in cleansing agents. You apply it by spreading the product with your fingers through your hair from roots to ends, rubbing gently in, and then you rinse away with water. 

Ok this takes a little getting used to if you expect your shampoo to produce lots of foam and suds, but it works very well and my hair was squeaky clean after using it. It has a light floral scent and no sulphate parabens, silicon or colourings too, so you can be kind to the environment and your hair at the same time. 

Monoi De Tahiti Lagoon hair and body wash - £1.95

The Monoï de Tahiti Lagoon hair and body wash is formulated to remove every trace of sand and sun cream - perfect for those beach holidays in the sun. What I liked about this product is the soft lather that felt nourishing too. It has a distinctive smell that reminded me of tropical flowers, with a hint of almond underneath and it is paraben and ethoxylate free. This two in one formula is now only £1.95 so a great price too. 

This would be great to pack in your suitcase for holidays, or even to take down the gym or swimming pool, to freshen up quickly.

Conclusion
Of all these products my favourite was the Yves Rocher Eclat Radiance Rinsing Vinegar. I didn't expect much from this product but it really changed my mind as my hair looked more shiny without the added weight of conditioners and I adored the raspberry fragrance too.

As a company Yves Rocher has great credentials, and was one of the first companies not to test their products on animals. If you like natural products and haven't used Yves Rocher before, give them a try.  

Offer
At the moment  – readers can get £6 off when they spend £26 or more and at the moment this also includes free delivery, just enter code 6OFF26 at checkout  at http://www.yves-rocher.co.uk

Let me know what you think of these products. Have you ever tried Yves Rocher?

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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Doing Good Everyday By Connecting People

Do you believe in Karma? "Where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual." Or in other words "What goes around comes around". The idea that by doing something good or helping others, you will get get repaid in the future, in some shape or form.



Image Copywrite ComZeal Shutterstock 

The Research


Did you know that actual research has shown that the happiest people are those that actually DO good for others? Whether that is giving up your free time to volunteer in a local charity shop, doing the shopping for an elderly neighbour or even paying for the coffee of someone behind you in a cafe.

When we do good things for others we reduce our own stress, including the physiological symptoms. When we are stressed for long periods the immune and cardiovascular systems are affected and abnormal cellular changes can cause premature ageing. 


A simple way to do good is to use companies that buy into this ethos of helping others. I always go to my local Pret-A-Manger in Cardiff as they give the left over food to the homeless at the end of the day. 

Another company that helps others is Lebara.  

Lebara - A Company That Helps Others

Lebara was founded in 2001 by Rasiah R Leon, Baskaran Kandiah and Ratheesan Yoganathan.

They shared a vision to create a mobile phone company to help migrant communities keep in touch with loved ones back home. They wanted to do this by providing high-quality, low-cost products and services. Yet an important part of the culture of the company is the desire to give back to ethnic communities all around the world.



Helping children in Sri Lanka in 2010

Aged 15, Lebara co-founder and CEO Ratheesan Yoganathan sought refuge in the UK from the Sri Lankan Civil War, and in 2004 Ratheesan witnessed the impact of the Tsunami in Asia. Seeing first-hand what happens to young children when denied basic needs such as water, food, shelter and education really affected him. It was then that the idea for the Lebara Foundation was first thought of. In 2008, the Lebara Foundation was registered with the aim of providing health, housing and schooling for displaced communities around the world.

The Projects

There are many projects that Lebara have helped since its start. The Foundation has gone from supporting around 1,000 children in one country to assisting over 150,000 children across 11 countries. 

Here are just a sample of the good causes they help below.

South India School And Village



The biggest project so far from a donation of €10 million in 2011 is being used to build a school and village in South India. The project will provide 1,000 children with access to education and sustainable community-based care for their families. 

Artifical Limb Project



The 26 year war in Sri Lanka was brutal and terrible and more than a year after the end of the war an estimated 160,000 amputees lack proper prosthetic limbs.

The Lebara Foundation’s Artificial Limbs project aims to help 200 of the poorest people by providing artificial limbs, as well as support, both physically through rehabilitation and emotionally.

IFRC Educational Project Poland




The Lebara Foundation has donated €100,000 in funding a project that will educate children and young people through health promotion, self-care awareness and the teaching of first aid. 

Working closing with the Polish Red Cross this important project aims to reduce health risks and accident levels by changing attitudes and behaviours.

How You Can Help

By using a Lebara SIM card or mobile, as well as getting a great cost effective plan you are doing good everyday by buying from a company that helps others in so many ways, and not just be donating to charity, by directly helping others. You can read more about the projects the Lebara Foundation support here.

What do you think about Lebara's ethos and the Lebara Foundation?

* This post is in association with Lebara
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Monday, 20 April 2015

Different Stones For Different Brides

If you’re a non-traditional bride, here’s a low-down on some different types of engagement rings.


Image Artemas Liu - Flickr Creative Commons Licence 

In the past couple of years there has been a fashion for non-traditional engagement rings. That means that more men are buying non-traditional diamond engagement rings, and rings bearing different stones, like the bride’s birthstone are becoming more popular.

While many of these stones aren’t ideal for everyday wear, here’s a look at different options for non-traditional engagement rings.

Topaz Rings

Topaz comes in a variety of beautiful colours from orange, and blue to yellow and even colourless. Typically colourless stones are treated in a lab to add colour. Topaz is a strong stone and is the official birthstone for the month of November. It is a relatively inexpensive stone and a good choice for a bride on a budget.

Opal Rings

Opals are able to express a huge spectrum of colours and often you’ll notice multiple colours flashing across the stone, which is called a 'play of colours'. They’re perfect for the non-traditional bride who loves unusual stones. Opals are a soft stone so it is important to treat your opal carefully to avoid damaging it and remove your ring before gardening or housework for example. Some people believe opals can be damaged by water but this is only doublets and triplets (multiple layers glued together), not solid opals.

Amethyst Rings

Amethysts shine a stunning violet shade and is a variety of quartz. It’s the official February birthstone. The hardness of these stones can vary which makes it easy to cut it into a range of shapes like hearts, ovals, squares and much more. If you’re not keen on seeking out diamond engagement rings in Melbourne, an amethyst engagement ring could be ideal for your non-traditional bride. Amethysts are generally a cheaper stone to emerald, ruby and diamond and so make a cost effective engagement ring when money is tight.

Pearl Rings

Pearls are classified as organic gemstones. Pearls are unique since they’re formed within oysters – living creatures. These are the most valuable organic gemstones in the world and one of three recognised birthstones for June.

Pearls are simply breathtaking but are a soft substance and may not be the best choice for an engagement ring. Since pearls form naturally in a living mollusc they come in a huge array of shapes like oval, button, and drop.

Emerald Rings

Emeralds are extremely precious stones. Emeralds come in an illuminating green shade and are high in demand. Compared to some of the other stones, emeralds do well as everyday wear engagement rings as they are a fairly hard stone. They do, however, need special treatments such as periodical oiling to maintain their shine.

It’s worth the inconvenience though as emeralds will remain incredibly shiny. However, over time, too many of these treatments can damage the structural integrity of the gem and emeralds can start to crack or show big blemishes.

Diamonds 

Diamonds are still a great choice. Diamonds are still the best stone for the perfect engagement ring - whether you are from London or New York, Paris or Melbourne. When it comes to day in and day out wear and durability, nothing beats these stones, as they are the hardest precious stone there is.

Diamonds can be worn all year round no matter how humid and hot the weather may be. As they are hard stones brides can feel at ease knowing their diamonds will truly stand the test of time. There’s no worrying about abrasions or cracks.

While alternative stone engagement rings might be popular with today’s non-traditional bride, nothing quite beats a timeless, classic diamond.

* This article was contributed by Media Buzzer
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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Kewei Designer Jewellery Review And Competition - Ends 17/05/15

Kewei Design is a newly launched British jewellery company, that make interesting calligraphy inspired jewellery with influences from traditional Chinese arts. 



A small company, Kewei Design is made up of Greg and his wife Yichan, as well as their friend Kewei. Kewei - who is a very experienced artist and expert calligrapher gets his talent from his grandfather who is still painting everyday at the grand old age of 92. 




Kewei Design uses modern techniques of 3D modelling and Computer Aided Design (CAD) to bring this traditional art to life, and the designs when realised in precious metal really look like a brush has been dipped in the metal itself, with each piece beautifully made and finished. 



Husband and wife, Greg and Yichan work closely together in the business as well. Yichan has a great eye for fashion and jewellery aesthetics, whilst Greg is in his final stages of his PHD in material sciences and is knowledgeable about the technical processes.

So far they have three jewellery designs and each character has its meaning incorporated into the design; 

Family (Jia, ) includes a heart under a shelter. This is the key to a family. The heart has wings, acknowledging that one will return to family.

Joy (Le, ) has a massive smile. The character can also be pronounced as Yue, which means music. This is referenced in the character, which resembles a musical clef. Music is a big source of happiness and joy for many people.  

Love (Ai, ), you can see a couple dancing together or a mother holding her child. It also hides the Chinese character for heart inside it (Xin, 心). 




 "Family", "Joy" and "Love"

Kewei Deign believe that British and Chinese culture have a lot in common and that each culture can learn from each other. This is something they like to embody with their jewellery and they make sure that the flow and aesthetic of the character is not compromised by making it into a necklace or bracelet. 


"Joy"

As you can see from the information above Kewei Design jewellery is unique, different and elegant, and you can almost see the love and care gone into each brush stoke. It's also worth pointing out that all pieces are created and manufactured in the UK, which I feel is important in this day and age. 

If you like the designs, which retail at £135, I encourage you to enter the competition below for a chance to win your choice of one of their stunning necklaces. Would you go for the design "Love", which can mean the love for a child, a precious husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or sibling? Or is the "Joy" of life and music your preferred design? Maybe "Family" bonds are the most precious to you and you would love to symbolise that in a necklace. I wish you every luck if you enter the competition and if you like this competition it is also worth bookmarking it as you can also enter daily through the Gleam app.

You can follow Kewei Design on Twitter and Facebook.

Win your choice of necklace from Kewei Design

Closing Date 17th May 2015 11.59PM

You can enter more of my competitions here


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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Easy Student Recipe: Chicken Chorizo And Butterbean Stew

A guest post by Frances from The Spoon And Whisk Blog



Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be guest posting here on Mel’s lovely blog. I was asked to come up with an easy recipe that students could happily feed themselves….so we’re talking cheap, which takes little of your time, but is still a hearty, wholesome good old tasty meal for you and your mates to enjoy whilst doing some of that much needed late night revision on the run up to exam season. Yay (yeah right!) And I would know since I’m 17 and currently in the middle of my as levels.


This recipe is great if you only have a pan because it’s a one-pot dish so only a ring on the stove is needed too. Everything gets thrown into it and is left to bubble and simmer away while you can get on with other things. (That also means little washing up – added bonus.)

I think it tastes great simply served alongside a crusty French baguette, however a baked potato or some rice would also be a great accompaniment. Don’t feel like you need to add the parsley garnish but I just think it adds a lovely bit of freshness and the crème fraiche complements with creaminess.


Ingredients:
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
170g chorizo sausage
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 chicken stock cube
1 red pepper
1 x 400g tin butter beans
1 tablespoon cornflour

Garnish:
A handful of chopped parsley
4 teaspoons of crème fraiche

Method

First heat the oil in a large pan, whilst you peel and roughly chop the onion and peel then grate the garlic. Put the chopped onion into the hot pan and fry over a medium-high heat. Then after a few minutes add the grated garlic. Fry until soft and golden in colour.

Whist they are frying, slice the chicken breasts into large chunks and then add to the onion and garlic. Then the smoked paprika and mixed dried herbs and stir with a spoon until the chicken is coated. Turn up to a high heat and continue to cook while you slice the pepper into small pieces along with the chorizo about ½ cm thick (don’t forget to peel the skin off first if it comes that way). Add the pepper, chopped chorizo to the pan along with the chopped tomatoes. Then refill the can that the tomatoes came in with boiling water, mix in the chicken stock cube until dissolved. Pour the stock into the pan, season with pepper and simmer for about 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, make a paste by mixing the cornflour and about 3 teaspoons of water in a cup and stir into the stew to thicken it. Drain the butter beans from the tin and rinse under cold water and add to the stew. Cook through for another 5 minutes and you’re ready to serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and a dollop of crème fraiche.

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Friday, 17 April 2015

A Quick Read Guide to Selling Jewellery in An Emergency





Selling jewellery is generally a spur of the moment decision when money is tight or we discover jewellery in our collections we are able to part with. Few ever know how exactly to go about it beforehand so we thought we would provide some timeless tips on selling personal jewellery.

The value of gold generally fluctuates in ways that are favourable to a well-prepared investor much unlike global money markets with inflation, interest, and sliding scales.

In times of financial stability is when gold shines with the most lustre and as with any investment strategy, circumstances eventually line up and for one reason or another and everyone cashes out.

But how do you just sell gold jewellery? Here are a few pointers if you are looking to visit any of Australia’s #1 gold dealers to make some money on jewellery you no longer want to have in your personal collection.

1. Do Not Rush

If you are going to sell your gold jewellery, do not be in any hurry. In order to get a proper market value for your precious metal, you’ll need to do a bit of research and shop around for the best gold price. 

On rare occasions you will find a one-stop-shop that take into consideration the going market value and give you a fair deal. Follow you instincts.

2. Get a Valuation First

Before you start looking for cash-to-gold shops, have your jewellery evaluated by a professional (who has no motive to lower it in order to buy from you). This will give you an idea of what ball-park you’re in. Additional diamonds or intricate handiwork could propel the value higher.

3. Don’t Take the First Offer

Keep on shopping and when you do consider an offer, this is one of those real life obligatory awkward moments where you must haggle. Some people find it easier to act like they’re in a hurry but it's better to be nice, but firm. 

4. Look Online

Yes, you can buy and sell gold reliably online. Thanks to customer feedback, reliability ratings offer some level of assurance for either party within any given transaction. Start with sites like eBay, and go from there!

5. Look Around

How’s life? Are the cities all full of happy people living happy lives? How is the environment? National debt? Any civil or global unrest or war?

Take all of these things into account when buying and selling gold in any time of crisis whether political, economic, environmental, or a random act of God.

In times of crisis the value of gold goes up. In time of a collapsing currency, the same thing happens. Buy low, sell high.


* This post was contributed by Media Buzzer
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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ten Stunning Alterations To Improve Your Home

Home renovations have become wildly popular in recent years, as more and more people are choosing to upgrade what they have instead of moving. The right renovation can increase the value of your home, but more importantly, it can give you a sense of profound satisfaction, and turn the place you live into your own personal paradise.

10. Convert Your Attic Into a Bedroom



Converting your attic is the perfect way to create more living space out of nothing for a growing family, and it also increases the value of your home. A four bedroom house is a much more valuable commodity than a three bedroom house, and with the right touches, the sloping ceilings of many old attics will make for a charming bedroom. Before you embark on this renovation, be sure to ascertain if you will need to insulate the attic, gain planning permission, or if the floor joists will need reinforcing.

9. Build a Conservatory




A conservatory is perhaps one of the most romantic home renovations you can undertake. Adding a conservatory brings nature into your home, and creates a tranquil haven where you can entertain family and friends or just relax and read a book on a rainy afternoon. It also has the practical benefit of adding more floor space to your house, and, quite often, increasing its value.

8. Construct a Deck



You can think of a deck as a less labour-intensive version of a conservatory. The point is to create a living space that flows effortlessly into the outdoors. A deck is a great place to entertain guests, and adding furniture or a hammock to a covered deck adds an air of charm that cannot be matched. Bring some plants up onto the deck, and for maximum effect add embedded lights or some hanging lanterns. It can also be an incredibly rewarding DIY project.

7. Renovate Your Basement



Upgrading your basement can be as simple or as grand a project as you please. Start by adding carpeting or hardwood floors, drywall and finish the walls and add some attractive lighting. Having a finished basement will add immensely to the value of your home, as well as giving you a cozy place to retreat and have some time to yourself. If you have the funds to spare, you can add a games room, a library, or even a home theatre.

6. Upgrade Your Kitchen


Kitchens and bathrooms often have the most potential when it comes to renovations, and can have a tremendous effect on the value of your home. You can bring about an almost miraculous change in many old kitchens by replacing the countertops, cupboards and lighting. Focus on achieving a bright, modern look, and if your kitchen is separate from the dining room consider tearing down an adjoining wall to give your house a more open feel.

5. Add a Second Bathroom



Having two bathrooms instead of one adds greatly to the value of your home, and you can often work with even the smallest of available spaces. To make a small place seem larger, focus on bright colours and comprehensive lighting, and add mirrors and large, elegant floor tiles to draw the eye outward. Install attractive, modern fixtures, and don't go overboard with the decorations. A few small touches and the right colour scheme can turn a small bathroom into a cozy and peaceful retreat.

4. Install a Fireplace


Nothing adds to the atmosphere of a living room or den like the flickering light of a fire. People will instinctively gather around a fireplace to talk, and nothing compares to the feeling of stretching out in front of one during a cold night in winter, feeling the heat soak into your bones, perhaps with a glass of wine or a good book in hand. You don't need a functioning chimney to install a modern fireplace, and you can tailor your design to work perfectly with the colour and feel of any room.

3. Consider Hardwood Floors




If your floors seem old and tired, there might be no better choice than to go with the perennially popular option of hardwood. Hardwood flooring can add a certain level of class to any home, and by choosing the right kind of wood you can compliment any colour scheme. Dark woods like walnut and cherry are stately and sophisticated, and work well for dens or other rooms with low key lighting, while maple or birch are bright and vibrant woods that work perfectly in bright open spaces, especially kitchens.

2. Update Your Entranceway




The entranceway is often the first feature people will see when they approach your house, and a few small touches here can make a world of difference, adding to your curb appeal and giving your home a welcoming feel. Paint your door a bright colour and add an attractive gold or silver knocker. Spruce up your entranceway with flowers that compliment the colour of your door and walls, and people will feel at home before they even step in the door.

1. Do Some Landscaping



When it comes to landscaping, you can embark on elaborate projects or you can add a few simple features that nonetheless turn your facade into a work of art. Add some flower beds and a stone or marble walkway, and don't go overboard with the garden furniture. A simple table and chairs will make your home appear infinitely more inviting. You can even blur the lines between your home interior and your garden with a set of bifold doors or a large entryway.

What do you think of these ways to improve you home?


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